Managing tube-feeding for your child and measuring their progress are parts of the physical care needs of your child, but each and every child also has emotional needs that should not be overlooked.
Once a feeding tube is in place, it will take some time for everyone to adjust, especially your child. This is a big change, and every child will react differently. To make the transition as smooth as possible, highlight the positive effects the feeding tube will have on his or her growth and development.
It may be difficult to understand now, but tube-feeding can and will become second nature over time. It's very possible for a child to eventually view the tube as a natural part of his or her body.
Social settings may be particularly trying. A feeding tube can make your child feel left out when he or she cannot eat birthday cake at parties or order off the menu at a restaurant. Speaking to friends and classmates about tube-feeding will help alleviate any confusion and allow the child to feed more comfortable in their surroundings.
It is best if a child is comfortable enough to provide factual answers. Sitting down with your child's teachers and making sure they understand why a child is tube fed and what it does will also help.
Once a tube is in place, your child may need to overcome feelings of dependence and worry. He or she may feel overwhelmed or have challenges with body image. Encourage open discussions with your child to uncover and talk about any possible fears and concerns.
Just because he or she uses a feeding tube doesn't mean your child can't take part in family mealtime. Allowing your child to make decisions such as what to do during feeding can also help ease feelings of anxiety.
This is a family journey, and some families find that encouraging siblings to participate is helpful. Having the help of other family members can build support and better understanding.
When adjusting to tube-feeding, it's important to try to maintain as much normalcy as possible for everyone involved. If family dinners and story time are part of the normal routine, carry on those activities as if nothing has changed.
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